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Few pieces of cookware can boast a history of reliability, versatility and durability like the Dutch oven. It’s simply an indispensable tool for weekend camping trips, or for when you have to live off the grid.

As covered in our previous article, Dutch ovens are easy to use and can last for generations. In this piece, we’ll be tackling recipes that you can use with your trusted oven. Note that these are just a small sample of the many dishes you can make, since most recipes made with a modern oven can pretty much be cooked (baked, roasted, braised, stewed or fried) with a Dutch oven.

Campfire Chili

No one should ever go without the classic pioneer favorite, piping-hot chili, after a long day of working around the camp. Remember, you can substitute ingredients based on your preference and availability, especially when it comes to the meat components.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped (Optional; this is for those who want spicier chili)
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds coarse ground beef (90% lean)
  • 2 15-ounce cans dark red kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 12 fluid-ounce can of beer or water

Method:

  1. Heat your pre-seasoned Dutch oven over your campfire.
  2. Add the oil.
  3. When the oil is smoking, add the onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt.
  4. Cook the mixture until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are soft. Add the beef and garlic.
  5. Cook until the beef is browned, making sure to break up the clumped-up beef with a wooden spatula.
  6. Pour in the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beer or water.
  7. Cover the oven and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove the oven from the fire and spoon into bowls, pairing with bread or corn chips. Makes 8 servings.

A great meal to return to at camp: This version included corn but you can adjust yours based on what you have on hand. (gettyimages.com).

Dutch Oven Pizza

Since pizza delivery is probably out of the question, just follow this simple recipe to make your own! This recipe is for use with a 12-inch Dutch oven.

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What you’ll need:

  • Parchment paper
  • Tinfoil pie pan
  • Cooking oil/spray
  • 1 roll of refrigerated pizza dough or fresh equivalent
  • ½ jar pizza or tomato sauce
  • Desired pizza toppings (bacon, mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, black olives, pepperoni, etc.)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

 Method:

  1. Place a couple of oversized sheets of parchment paper on the bottom of the Dutch oven, making sure they’re long enough to extend over the top of the oven. (This will be how you remove the pizza from the oven.)
  2. Lightly coat the parchment paper with cooking oil/spray.
  3. Press the pizza dough into place in the pie pan, being sure it won’t be in contact with the insides of the oven.
  4. Using a fork, poke several holes in the dough to prevent any bubbles from forming during cooking.
  5. Place the pie pan with the dough, on the paper in the bottom of the oven.
  6. Close the lid, allowing the excess parchment paper to drape over the sides.
  7. With 10 hot coals at the bottom and 15 to 20 evenly spaced on top, bake the dough for about 5-8 minutes.
  8. Remove the coals and lid, and add the pizza sauce onto the top of the dough, your toppings, and the cheese.
  9. Replace the lid and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the dough has browned.
  10. Remove the oven from the charcoal. Carefully lift the pizza using the parchment paper onto a plate and enjoy.

It’s easy to bake a pizza with your Dutch oven and using cooking oil and parchment paper simplifies cleanup (tuppercooks.blogspot.com).

 

Dutch Oven Cheesecake

This dessert is as indulgent as it is unexpected. Your fellow campers will be amazed when they discover you baked a cheesecake out in the woods! This recipe is for use with a 10-inch Dutch oven.

What you’ll need:

For the crust:

  • One pack of honey graham crackers (about 1¾ cup, crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5½ tablespoons salted butter

 For the cheesecake:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Baking spray or oil
  • Preferred cheesecake topping (peaches, cherries, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc.)

Method:

Making cheesecake in a Dutch oven calls for having a “base”, so the crust must be made first.

For the crust:

  1. In a separate bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
  2. Lightly spray the inside of the Dutch oven with baking spray or wipe oil onto the inside.
  3. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  4. Close the lid, placing 12 to 14 coals on top, and 7 or 8 at the bottom of the oven.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.

 For the cheesecake filling:

  1. Mix until well-blended the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla extract.
  2. Add in the sour cream and blend well.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
  4. Pour mixture into crust.
  5. Bake until the middle of the cheesecake is almost set. This should take about an hour.
  6. Separate the cake from the sides of the oven and let cool before serving.
  7. Add toppings then serve.

A complicated recipe like cheesecake is easy as pie with a Dutch oven (campersweekly.com).

 

Salmon Bake

One of the easier meals to prepare in the wild, this recipe uses only four ingredients and a 12-inch Dutch oven. Although intended for salmon, you can use this recipe for almost any other fish as long as it’s filleted and has the skin intact.

What you’ll need:

  • Six 6-ounce fillets of salmon, or a single 1-pound piece with the skin on one side
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 whole oranges or clementines
  • Dill weed

Method:

  1. Pour water into the oven.
  2. Slice oranges into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange a “bed” of the slices on the bottom of the oven.
  3. Lay the fillets on top of the orange slices.
  4. Generously sprinkle dill weed on the fish.
  5. Cover the Dutch oven, placing 17 hot coals on the lid, 8 at the bottom. This will provide heat amounting to approximately 350 degrees.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.

Cooking in Dutch ovens is excellent for fresh catch or store-bought fish or meat (dutchovendude.com).

 

Pull-Apart Rolls

You wouldn’t be enjoying Dutch oven-cooking if you haven’t tried baking bread with it. This recipe for dinner rolls is perfect for bread that everyone at camp can pull apart and enjoy by itself, or pair with a savory dish.

 What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Optional: sea salt and melted butter to taste
  • Baking spray or oil

 Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast, water and the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter over your campfire.
  3. Add the salt and the tablespoon of sugar and mix well.
  4. Transfer the above mixture to a large bowl, mixing 1 ½ cups of flour with it.
  5. Mix the yeast mixture into the flour mixture, and add another cup of flour. Expect the resulting dough to be stiff.
  6. On a clean, flat surface, sprinkle some flour and knead the resulting stiff dough until it smoothens out.
  7. Place the dough in a clean bowl greased with some baking spray or oil.
  8. Cover the dough and leave it in a dry, warm place. Let it rise until it doubles in size. Usually an hour or so is sufficient.
  9. When the dough has risen enough, grease your hands (make sure they’re clean) with oil and pull chunks of dough, shaping them into a dozen fist-sized balls.
  10. Lightly coat the Dutch oven with baking spray or oil and arrange the dough balls, filling the oven.
  11. Cover the dough and allow to rise for another 35 minutes. Use this time to prepare your hot coals.
  12. After letting the dough rise, put the lid on. Place the oven over 9 hot coals, and place 18 hot coals on the lid. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  13. If desired, pull off the lid and brush melted butter on top, with a sprinkling of sea salt.
  14. Continue baking for 2-4 more minutes, or until the tops are browned.
  15. Carefully remove from the oven, and allow the rolls to cool before serving.

Baking dinner rolls the old-fashioned way is quite an achievement for those new to the Dutch oven (thegigglinggourmet.blogspot.com).

Final notes

After you’ve used your Dutch oven, don’t forget to clean it out and re-season once it’s cooled down.

The trick to being good at cooking with your Dutch oven is patience. Follow the recipe, don’t take shortcuts, and with enough time and experience you can become reasonably good at cooking without the help of modern conveniences. Besides developing a useful skill, cooking with a Dutch oven lets you give due respect to the way our forebears lived in simpler times.